Roti Island snake-necked turtle

Common Name: Roti island snake-necked turtle

Scientific Name: Chelodina mccordi

Roti Island snake-necked turtles are found solely on the island of Roti in Indonesia, with only two known populations on the island.

The long neck of a Roti Island snake-necked turtle is around two-thirds of the length of its shell and covered in wart-like bumps. The shell is pale grey and oval in shape, growing wider towards the tail end. The neck is darker, with a light underside and the face has ringed eyes. Female snake-necked are usually physically bigger than the males.

Unlike other turtle species, the Roti Island snake-necked turtles can tuck their entire neck and head into their shell for protection and can also produce a foul-smelling musk to deter would-be predators.

Fast Facts

  • Status

    Critically endangered

  • Size

    Shell length 15cm to 21cm

  • Weight

    444g to 816g

  • Gestation

    112 – 179 days

  • Young

    9-13 eggs

  • Life span

    Up to 30 years

In the wild

Roti Island snake-necked turtles are primarily carnivorous. In the wild they would eat amphibians, fish, insects, molluscs and worms as available, but will also eat carrion and algae to supplement their diet.

Roti Island snaked-necked turtles prefer inland, shallow, fresh water lakes and rice field marshes. During the rainy season (December – March) they are found in fresh water and wetlands however, unlike other species which will burrow and remain dormant in the mud, Roti Island snake-necked turtles spend the dry season, when they become nocturnal in behaviour, sheltered under rocks and in drifts of leaves within forests.

Not much is known about the nesting habits of the Roti Island snaked-neck turtles, but they are known to mate in water before moving onto land to lay eggs. Incubation takes around 4 months with hatchlings beginning to appear in November (close to the start of the raining season). Hatchlings have a shell length of around 2.5cm.





Invasive species, not native to the island including pigs and dogs have been known to eat the Roti Island snake-necked turtle as they are easily found in their shallow habitats. Large freshwater fish such as Tilapia will also feast on young hatchlings. As their habitat is often close to agricultural land they are also at risk of being trampled by cattle. Although they are not a species known for being consumed by the local people, they are harvested in large numbers for the international pet trade.

The main threat to the Roti Island snake-necked turtle is capture for use in the international pet trade. They are classed under CITES Appendix II, but despite the banning of their export since 2013, in 2018 the Turtle Conservation Coalition identified the species as a top conservation priority.  Roti Island snake-necked turtles are listed as one of the Top 25 turtle species most likely to face extinction. A captive breeding station has been set up in Indonesian Timor, close to Roti. At present there is no protected area for reintroduction, however, some areas with suitable habitats are being considered for the future.

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